Small children are unable to hold or play a full-size violin. Depending on the age of a student, they may not be able to lift a full-size violin. That’s why we have fractional violins or violins that are smaller. These allow young students, some as young as three years old, to play the violin. As the student grows, the violin will grow with them. Meaning you, the parent, will have to trade in or trade up your child’s violin as they grow. Don’t worry; most places offer trade-in credit for owned violins, and you can generally trade rental violins for free.
Violin Sizes and Measurements
There are nine violin sizes sold as standard. Despite, this many luthiers debate the actual size of a violin, and older violins can be found in various sizes and still be a full-sized violin. These measurements are taken by measure the body of the violin and do not include the neck, pegbox, or scroll.
- 1/32 = 7.5″
- 1/16 = 8″
- 1/10 = 9″
- 1/8 = 10″
- 1/4 = 11″
- 1/2 = 12.5″
- 3/4 = 13″
- 7/8 = 13.5″
- 4/4 = 14″
How to Measure Your Child/Student
There are a few quick but inaccurate ways to measure your child against the size of an instrument.
- First, have them hold the violin under their chin as if they were going to play the instrument.
- Second, have them stretch their hand and wrap it around the scroll of the violin. The violin is a good size if they can do this comfortably and without overstretching their arm.
Luthiers and music stores will also have devices that can help measure your child easily. You can also do it the old-fashioned way and measure your child/student from their shoulder to the tip of their fingers and compare it to these measurements below.
- 13.5 to 14 inches is equal to 1/32 sized violin.
- 14 inches is equal to a 1/16th sized violin
- 15 inches is equal to a 1/10th sized violin.
- 16.5 inches is equal to a 1/8th sized violin.
- 18-18.5 inches is equal to a 1/4th sizes violin.
- 20 inches is equal to a 1/2 sized violin.
- 21.5 to 22 inches is equal to a 3/4 sized violin.
- 22 to 23 inches is equal to a 7/8th violin. A 7/8th violin is meant for a smaller adult.
- 23 inches is equal to a 4/4 or full-sized violin.
Typically by the time students are 11 or 12 years old, they are playing a full-sized instrument. If your child starts playing in elementary school, you can expect them to grow a size every year until they reach a 3/4th sized instrument around the age of nine.
Buying vs. Renting a Fractional Sized Violin
The decision to buy versus rent a fractional-sized violin for your growing student will depend on a few factors, including a budget, convenience, and your child’s size when starting.
If you are sentimental, you may want to purchase a fractional-sized violin for your student to keep as a souvenir as they grow. Many violinists still have their first violin and save it as a decoration. Fractional-sized violins are usually cheaper than their full-sized counterparts but can be hard to find compared to a 3/4 or 4/4 sized violin. Your local music store or luthier will be able to track down fractional instruments in your budget. I only recommend purchasing fractional instruments if you have multiple children using different sizes, are willing to sell or trade-in the violin for less than you paid, and can foot any repair or replacement costs if something happens to the instrument.
Depending on location, renting a violin will cost a fixed amount of money per month, usually under 50 dollars a month. I can currently get a fractional-sized violin rental for 20 dollars where I live in the midwest. Over time a percentage of what you pay each month will go towards purchasing a violin. Most rental places allow you to trade in violins for a larger size for free. Overall, renting a violin is highly convenient because you don’t have to spend time selling or trading your instrument. It can feel a little confusing, depending on the terms of the contract. I recommend deals that apply at least 50% of your payments towards owning a violin.
Additionally, rentals typically come with a form of insurance that will allow for any damages or repairs to be made for free. Violin repairs can be expensive, even on cheaper instruments. Knowing you can take it to the store if something goes wrong is a significant piece of mind.
If your child is already around nine years old when they express interest in the violin, then buying them a 3/4 sized instrument isn’t a bad idea. Typically students stay with a 3/4 sized violin for 2-3 years versus one year for smaller sizes. Some small adults may continue using a 3/4 sized violin or may need a 7/8th violin. Additionally, due to the demand for 3/4 sized and 4/4 sized violins, you can find buyers or better trade-in deals as well.
Fractional Sized Violin Recommendations
- SHAR Music is a national music chain located in Ann Arbor, MI, that services the united states and over 60 countries. Michael Avsharian Sr; founded the business in 1962. His two children, Michael JR and Charles, continues to run the company as Executive VP and CEO. They are both classically trained musicians, Michael having attended Julliard Institute of Music and Charles attending Curtis Institute of Music. They employ over 100 people with musical backgrounds and ensure proper training on string instruments for all their employees.
- They offer multiple packages with and without starting kits (books, stand, and shoulder rest). The packages range from 18 dollars a month up to 50 dollars.
- 100% of your payments are converted into equity towards 50% of the purchase price of a violin. If you pay 500 dollars over a year in a rental, you could purchase a 1000 dollar violin for 500 dollars.
- You have the option to buy out your instrument and keep it if you like it. The buyout is 50% of the remaining payments after the initial period.
- Upsizing your instrument is free and includes round-trip shipping.
- The base package comes with a violin, bow, case, and rosin.
- Johnson String Instrument (JSI) is located in Newton Upper Falls, MA, but they service the entirety of the United States. They also work with schools to provide quality instruments right to the students and teachers. Founded in 1976 by Carol and Roger Johnson and is currently owned by their son Adam. The sister company Carriage House Violins also works with the company selling high-end antique and modern violins.
- JSI offers three package options for beginner, intermediate and professional instruments. Instruments start at 1/16th in size and can be paid for in 3. 6, 9, or 12 months packages.
- Their credit policy applies 100% of your first years’ rent and then additionally 20% for each year after that. Credit cannot be combined with credit from other rentals or trade-ins.
- Sizing is up free and will not interrupt your rental payments or equity.
- Music&Arts is your general music store chain, and you’d be hard-pressed not to find one of these tucked away in a large city. They offer a wide variety of instruments to rent and have multiple sizes available. Founded in 1952 out of a small house by Benjamin O’Brien, they’ve managed to make a name for themselves in the instrument world. They serve the entire united states, including schools and individuals.
- Multiple packages and sizes are available.
- 100% of rental payments go towards purchasing an instrument, but you can’t purchase the instrument you are renting.
- Sizing up is free and doesn’t affect rental terms.
- Bunnel Pupil Violin Outfit is sold by Kennedy Violins, well know retailer for student violins. The pupil outfit is their introductory violin that comes in sizes 1/16th through 4/4. The outfit comes with a Guiliani Brazilwood Bow, rosin, prelude strings, a Portland case, an extra set of strings, shoulder rest, and polishing cloth.
- Bunnel Premier Violin Outfit Another pick sold by Kennedy Violins and available on Amazon for convenient purchasing and delivery. The outfit comes in 1/16th to full size and includes a Portland case, Guiliani bow, prelude strings, rosin, a violin book, tuner, polishing cloth, and a backup set of strings.
- Tower Strings Entertainer Violin Outfit comes from the well-known Fiddlershop line of violins. The outfit can be purchased in sizes 1/16th through full-size and sits at a very affordable price point. For 250 dollars, you can get a quality violin, case, bow, rosin, shoulder rest, practice mute, polishing cloth, and tuner.
- Scott Cao 017 Violin Outfit is quite a bit more expensive than the other options, but with the price point comes quality. Scott Cao is an award-winning master luthier. The outfit comes in sizes 1/32 through 4/4. The outfit costs 563 dollars and comes with a handmaid violin, bow, case, and polishing cloth.
Answer: Good question here are the measurements:
• 1/32 = 15″
• 1/16 = 16.75″
• 1/10 = 17.5″
• 1/8 = 19.25″
• 1/4 = 22.5″
• 1/2 = 24.5″
• 7/8 = 27″
• 4/4 = 29.5″
Answer: The smallest playable violin is 1/64th in size and can be bought on Amazon for 200 dollars. This is a tiny violin meant for a very small 2 or 3-year-old player. It’s hard to imagine a toddler learning the violin, but many of today’s great violinists started as toddlers.
Answer: The world’s youngest violin prodigy is debated among violinists. The current Guinness Book of World Records Holder is Vanessa Mae from the UK. She holds the record for recording Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D (OP.35) and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D (OP.61). Currently, Christain Li is an Australian Violinist because the youngest violinist to professionally record Vivaldi: The Four Seasons at 13 years old. He also won the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinist Junior Divison at just ten years old.
No matter what age a child expresses interest in a violin, they can find one that is the right size. Measuring your child or student correctly and finding the right violin or rental company for your budget and lifestyle is essential. If you live near a big city, don’t forget to check out your local music store as well. It can be very convenient to have your child’s luthier close by!
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